- Former President Donald Trump privately met with a group of more than two dozen top donors and supporters, hours after pleading not guilty to 37 federal felony counts.
- Donors, according to one of the attendees, munched on some of Trump's favorite meals, including crab cakes and burgers, while sipping on wine and cocktails.
- The small group of core supporters vowed to double down on support for the ex-president, who has now been criminally charged in two cases.
Former President Donald Trump met privately with more than two dozen top donors and supporters Tuesday night, as he sought to rally wealthy donors and supporters to his cause hours after his arraignment on more than three dozen federal felony charges.
Trump hosted the group, as well as aides, for a "candlelight dinner" at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. To get a seat at the meal, supporters had to raise or donate $100,000 toward his 2024 run for the White House, according to invitations to the event.
Trump's brief remarks to the group echoed the speech he made earlier that evening outside the clubhouse. He railed against the federal indictment charging him with willfully retaining scores of documents that contained some of the nation's most sensitive military secrets, according to people familiar with the private comments.
Trump had just returned to his golf course after being arraigned and pleading not guilty in a Miami federal courthouse. Trump ally Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., also attended the dinner, said the people, who declined to be named because they were discussing a private event. Tuberville had come to Bedminster ahead of Trump's public speech. A Tuberville spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Donors, according to one of the attendees, munched on some of Trump's favorite meals, including crab cakes and burgers, while sipping on wine and cocktails.
Trump, who turned 77 Wednesday, is the clear leader in the 2024 Republican primary field.
The small group of rich donors who met with Trump spoke after meeting with the former president, saying they will double down on their support. Their continued loyalty could help him raise millions as he battles GOP rivals and numerous legal challenges. In April, he pleaded not guilty to state charges in New York, and he faces two more criminal probes, including an election interference investigation in Georgia.
The event raised more than $2 million, Trump's campaign confirmed to CNBC. The fundraiser was officially scheduled before Trump was indicted on federal charges.
"Voters, donors, and activists are all energized to send President Trump back to the White House," Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said in a statement to CNBC.
While these donors lack the notoriety of previous Trump backers such as Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and tech investor Peter Thiel, their loyalty matches the intensity of the former president's small-dollar donors and GOP primary voters.
Businessman and real estate executive Stan Pate posted on his Facebook page that he was at the Trump fundraising event.
"My message to President Trump this evening at Bedminster 'Damn the Torpedoes, Full speed ahead'!" he wrote on Facebook page alongside a picture of him standing outside the golf course clubhouse. Pate gave $500,000 last year through one of his companies to Make America Great Again Inc., a super PAC backing Trump.
Pate did not respond to a Tuesday call seeking comment.
A Morning Consult poll, which was taken from the day the federal indictment was unsealed on June 9 until June 11, shows Trump still leads with 59% of support from potential GOP primary voters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is second with 19%.
The support from core Trump supporters contrasts with big money efforts to take him down. The Koch network has unleashed digital advertisements against the ex-president, with one declaring: "Trump can't win."
Rivals, including DeSantis, have been turning to wealthier donors to help take on the front-runner.